Touring Rajasthan – Part 1

I have lived in the US for the past several years now. I visit India roughly once a year, but vacations are always short, and I don’t venture outside Chennai. Mostly, I fall sick by the end of the first week, and recover just in time to catch my return flight 🙂 Hey, got to keep your immune system strong!

Anyway, so this time I decided to do a longer 3 week vacation, and I have badly been wanting to visit many places in India. Primarily hikes in the Northern part of the country, but there’s so much to see in India. And these days, it is not hard to find other like minded people doing similar activities. Long distance bicycling, hiking and even Ironmans have become fairly mainstream – which is great!

After some looking around, I decided November is as good a month to visit Rajasthan as any. Originally, I also wanted to fit in Delhi and Agra into the plan, but after some pondering, I decided to skip Agra for another time. While I was researching Rajasthan, Agra, and Delhi, I got into the history of the Mughals, the Rajputs …etc. Fascinating. I’m sure some of this was learnt in school – but I don’t remember it ever be as engaging as when you can look things up online, replete with visuals, neutral accounts, web forums with amazing discussions …etc. Anyway, it was good to revisit some of the history – this is also important to understand the significance of the many historic places, and help in narrowing down on the places of significance to visit.

Tour guides make for fantastic places to start, but after speaking to a friend of mine, who had visited Rajasthan recently, I decided to start broadly, on the logistics, and then narrow down on what to see around places. Within city transport, either with Taxis, local buses, or cabs could all be decided later. (I like to make detailed plans to a fault 🙂 )

Anyway, when it comes to broad planning, Google Maps is a great resource. I decided I would book my transport, and accommodations first. Google Maps also does a decent job of showing you things to do in a place. Even better, the Google Trips App on Android! (downloads local data)

I have mostly had good experiences on Indian Railways – so I decided I would take trains wherever possible – and also if possible, take late night trains – that way,  would get to spend the day time in cities, and get to sleep in trains. That’s one of the great things about trains – you can go from point A to B while sleeping 🙂

Also, I have never traveled by anything other than Sleeper Class in the past whenever I have booked tickets for myself. AC tickets prior to 2011 for me, did not seem like a wise way to spend money. In spite of my parents recommending traveling by AC many times, I had doggedly refused to do so – always taking Sleeper trains even in the middle of summer. My grandfather used to work for Indian railways, and back when I was a little kid, we have traveled by AC trains of course – but I have a very faint recollection of it.

While we are on firsts, here’s another – I have never taken a single local/domestic flight in India. 🙂

Booking tickets:

I was able to pay on Yatra with my Paypal account, where I chose to pay with Paypal credit, to avoid any foreign transaction fees. I operate a couple of accounts in India, and have debit cards of them. However, this is how ancient my accounts are – one of my debit cards does not have a CVV code on it. And, the other insists on sending an OTP. Now, my mom’s number is the number registered – and it would all work fine, if she wasn’t visiting the US herself. 🙂 She was still getting messages, but the bloody websites timed out faster than she could send me the OTP code. Dang! Thankfully, even IRCTC allows you to use an International Credit Card to make transactions – which was wonderful. At this point, at the risk of sounding like I have become accustomed to the USD, and INR seems cheap to me, train tickets in India even in 2AC is ridiculously cheap! And I don’t mean that in the sense of, oh it was only $15 – I mean it in the sense of – wow, it was only Rs. 1000 or 1500. Having visited Chennai the last several times, and feeling like a poor person when I saw others pay Rs. 300 for movie tickets, I felt like the Railways is really operating things for cheap here! A night’s lodging and travel for Rs. 1000 !! What ?!!

Anyway, after some very preliminary, planning, here’s what I came up with

Day 1-> Fly from Chennai to Jaipur (unfortunately, the earliest cheapest option only landed in Jaipur after noon.)

Day 2-> Jaipur. Take a night train to Jaisalmer. (As of this writing, both my 2A and 1A tickets are waitlisted, although the 1A ticket is WL1 – so I am feeling reasonably confident, I’ll get a seat on the train.)

Day 3,4 -> Jaisalmer. Take a night train from Jaisalmer to Jodhpur.

Day 5,6 -> Jodhpur. Take a night bus (unfortunately, there was no train) to Udaipur

Day 7,8 -> Udaipur. Take a night train to Ajmer.

Day 9 -> Ajmer/Pushkar. (I know a day is probably not enough). Take a train from Ajmer to New Delhi.

Day 10 -> New Delhi. Take a night flight to Chennai.

Other things:

It looked to me like, I would need a place to take a shower in Ajmer. Instead of booking a hotel, I just booked a retiring room in the railway station. Now, after the fact, I learnt that 1AC has showers! and the delta I would have paid would have been the same as booking a retiring room. Well, you learn something every day. 🙂

At New Delhi, I booked  lounge for I believe < Rs. 200. Apparently, it is another 150-200 Rs for a shower, but I think that’s ok. I could also go without showers if need be – I mean, when I go multi-day backpacking, I just carry wet wipes with me, and towel myself down.

Screen Shot 2018-11-04 at 10.01.35 PMScreen Shot 2018-11-04 at 9.59.41 PM

Now, onto some micro-planning on things to do/see.


Creaky Drivetrain ….contd

So, I tried fixing my bicycle drivetrain to fix the creaking noise I was hearing. From my previous post,

My drivetrain is creaky – producing a grinding noise! I’ve been trying to isolate the noise, but it’s hard. It also appears only under load, making me think it is the bottom bracket. You’d think the Bottom Bracket and the Cranks are all standardized, and quite simple. You’d be wrong!

I also made sure to test all the usual suspects –

  • In the process found my outer chainring to be slightly loose, but nothing that was causing the noise.

  • My bottle cages had come loose and were rattling – fixed it. Didn’t fix the creaky drivetrain obviously.

  • I’ve checked my seat,

  • my pedals and

  • my chain and

  • cassette – they all look fine.

  • The bottom bracket itself doesn’t have any play in it, and rotates freely when not under load. I give it a spin, and can manage to make it turn 6-8 times freely without any binding.

I went ahead and replaced the bottom bracket first. In the process, I found the grease on the drive side had become dark inside the BB shell, while on the non-drive side it was still fresh. I thought this was evidence of corrosion. Ordered a new BB for $36, made sure to clean the BB shell really well, applied grease to it, installed the new BB.

  • Went out for a ride – the noise hadn’t gone away!

Dang it. I then changes out the chain – I cut it to the same length as the previous chain, made sure it’s the right 10-speed chain and replaced it. The chain length is slightly off, causing slight issues with shifting, but nothing major. This is something I anticipated.

I also chained out the rear Quick Release skewer, because, hey why not – I have a spare lying around, and I wanted to throw everything at it.

  • Went out for a ride – the noise still hasn’t gone away.

I’m having to rewatch this video.

At this point, my guess is really either the pedal or the crank itself. I earlier replaced the pedals, and hadn’t seen any improvement. So, I’m skeptical if it’s that. If it happens to be the crank itself, I have no idea how to find out or fix it. I’m going to have to go to the bike shop. Dang it!

Onto more detective work then.

The Podcast that NPR Planet Money Gets Horribly Wrong – #772 Small Change


I am a huge fan and an avid listener of NPR’s Planet Money. I’ve listened to at least a hundred episodes, and every time I am left amazed at the job they do of coming up with ideas for the show, and how wonderfully well researched the information presented is, and how wonderfully well it is then presented to keep you engaged in the podcast.

But, on Friday when I was catching up to some of the old podcasts I had missed, I came upon “#772 Small Change”. As I was listening the podcast and driving my car, I was just vigorously shaking my head. I would have to re-listen to this when I got home, and I would have to let the hosts know that this time, they somehow weren’t looking at it from what in my opinion is the correct perspective.

Now, some background on myself, since I’d like the reader to know about biases I have and about how well informed I am. I am not an economist – I have never done a single course on economics. I am a Hardware Engineer by the day, and an investing enthusiast by evening. I am extremely curious about where the world is headed, both out of just academic interest but also out of self interest – will I have my job ten years down the line ? If yes, where will I be in the value chain ?

Not to get too much into details on what I do, but this is important so I will get into some detail. I work in the semiconductor industry, working on designing chips that go into electronic gadgets. The semiconductor industry over the last few decades has been nothing short of fantastic, yet, there are challenges. If you’ve bought a computer in the recent past, you know that it cannot do that much more than your computer from five years ago. It runs a little faster, is a little more efficient, and costs less.

To get a perspective of how amazing the run in the semiconductor industry has been, I’d like to quote the late Robert Noyce – from a lecture he gave in 1984. The video is available on youtube. It’s an enlightening talk from a giant in the area of semiconductors.

…. Comparing the progress in the computer and the aircraft industries, and pointed out that if in the last twenty years, the aircraft industry had made the same progress that the computer industry has made, a 767 would cost five hundred dollars, and go around the world in twenty minutes on five gallons of gas

That was 1984. The Pentium’s didn’t exist till 1993. If you look at any of the recent Moore’s law charts, you will see how far we have come from 1984. Sure, things are slowing down on the surface, but progress is always being made. Here’s one such chart from ‘Ray Kurzweil’

When I first got interested in looking at what the future holds, I went hunting for books to read and videos to watch. There was a series on TED called ‘TED Talks: Humanity’s Future’ – it might have been a Youtube watchlist. It is possible my thoughts and opinions are influenced by that.

#772 Small Change

I think that is enough Prelude. Onto the actual podcast itself then.

Robert Gordon is interviewed in the episode, and has a book out there which substantiates much of his claims. “The Rise and Fall of American Growth” I would like to do a follow up to this article once I have read the book as well, so I can understand things in it’s entirety.

I’d first like to start with some points made, and address then with counter points, where I think they are necessary.

  • The Problem isn’t too much change – the problem is too little.
  • Technological innovation arranged by date
    • Window screens were invented in the 1880’s
    • The automatic washing machine had been invented by 1920.
    • Amazon was founded in 1994.
  • Thought exercise on taking a person from some age, and then moving them over to another age. 
    • Person from some age – has a horse, cart,  cooks over a fire.
    • Walking a long way bringing the apples from one town to another town.
    • When he needs to use the bathroom – poops in a hole in the ground. There’s no water, there’s no flush toilets.
    • In the US in the 1800’s. The world doesn’t look that different – still horses and carts, walking a long way, pooping in a hole, cooking over a fire. 100’s of years have passed and not that much has changed.
    • Same delivery guy, sleeps in 1870 – wakes up in 1940. He wakes up in a world that is completely transformed. Telephone. Light bulb – electricity. Airplanes. Flush Toilets. Cars. Truck. Kitchen. Refrigerator. Tall buildings. 
    • New York City – ride the subway. Buildings that were 75 or 100 stories tall. Empire state building was built in 1931.
      • If you measure productivity and progress by sky-scrapers, then let me remind you that the Great Pyramids were built several thousand years ago.
  • Point of the whole thought experiment is this – for hundreds of years, hardly any change at all. In one span, everything changes. Two key things – 1. Electricity, 2. Internal Combustion Engine.
  • General Purpose Technology – these technologies do all kind of different things all across the economy. Transforming daily life. Middle of 20th century – they transformed the way we work – work more efficient, workers do a lot more. Around WWII. 1944, 1945 – making a bomber airplane, 1 every hour.
  • After the war, the workers keep getting more and more productive. The Government builds interstate highways, makes truck drivers more efficient. 
  • Electricity gives us another big productivity breakthrough. Office worker productivity improvements.
  • Productivity is going up. How much value an average worker is creating in an hour of work.
  • Productivity growth is the way that societies get better off. It is the reason that people in the 50s and 60s are doing better than their grandparents. Tractors with Internal Combustion engines replaced horses , Food got more abundant, Builders use electric Power tools instead of hand tools,  Ordinary people could afford more comfortable houses. 
  • Same amount of work – more and better stuff.
  • Slows down in the 70’s and 80’s. Gets a huge boost in the 90s from computers. New general purpose technology. Businesses are going online, replacing paper with online websites. 
  • In 2004, something goes wrong. Productivity growth comes crashing down. Economists notice. 
  • 2010 – 2016 – productivity growth wasn’t picking up.
  • Rise of inequality. Why isn’t the pie growing at all ?
    • It is possible for the pie to be growing while most peoples shares are shrinking. This is what is happening – as the pie grows, larger and larger shares are being taken by fewer and fewer.
  • Productivity Paradox. We have all of this amazing technology – robots, AI, cloud. The economy as a whole – does not seem to be making a difference. Not making us more productive. 
  • Are we getting more productive , but not able to measure it correctly ? Easier to measure output/worker/hour making cars. How do you measure the productivity of the hospital worker ? Even accounted for, productivity isn’t growing as fast as it used to.
    • What is the productivity of a fully autonomous system ? Where no human hours are required ? 
  • Robert Gordon’s explanation. Fell asleep in 1950 and woke up today. What would have seemed new, would be everything to do with computers. Everything else – normal house. The microwave oven is the only thing that is new from 1950. Would find our cars entirely familiar. (safer, has GPS)
    • Just wait for self driving cars to go mainstream. Will not be very long now. You should watch the demo videos Tesla has showcased. And Google/Waymo is likely ahead.
    • And when semi-trucks become self driving, just wait. As I understand it, truck driver is the most common job in most of the US states. There’s also a piece I read on how truck drivers in spite of putting in long hours behind the wheel, still struggle to make ends meet.
  • Incrementally better – not some big revolution. more of the same rather than something new. The world has not changed as much in the past 70 years as much as it had in the 70 years before that. The big 20th century changes driven by electricity and the internal combustion engine – those were just a much bigger deal than the changes that have been driven by computers. 
    • You cannot fathom the changes that have been brought about by personal computers. Sure electricity and ICE are important, but they have nothing on computing. 
    • Skyscrapers and the subway might looks like big accomplishments, and they probably are, but they are not radical to improving human quality of life. Does your quality of life improve dramatically from living in an apartment on the 100th floor instead of a two storied apartment ? Does your quality of life improve dramatically from riding the subway instead of taking a cab on road ?
  • Computers and internet did give us that amazing decade in the late 90’s and early 00’s. Internet, Google came along, Smart phone came along. iPhone. 
  • iPhone and all the associated apps. Productivity growth is as low as it’s ever been in recorded US History. The nature of the iPhone with most of it’s uses is in your personal space. iPhones are a huge deal in our personal life, but they haven’t fundamentally changed the way in which most of us do our work. Other technologies – robots, AI – they haven’t changed our life either. 
    • This is patently wrong and false. The iPhone or any smart phone is not a toy regardless of how many people use it only to post their food photos on Instagram or their selfies on some other website.
    • Even before the iPhone, emails on Blackberry was an essential for every corporate big-whig who needed to stay up to date on communications. To me personally, emails and calendar invites are remarkable productivity improvements in my work. In the work-place, ask yourself how many secretaries and personal assistants have been replaced by web-apps or phone apps. Do you need a person to schedule appointments, to let someone know if you are available at a certain time ? Or do you login to your app, and it shows you exactly when everyone is free, and when they are tied up ? When you submit bills and receipts for official reimbursement, do you need a clerk to check that for you or do you do it yourself on an app ?
    • Have you seen iPhones being used in retail stores to scan codes, locate items, …etc ? I have seen this at the Apple store and even at stores like Home Depot. Why don’t you try locating an item based on a paper catalog instead ?
    • If you’re an Uber driver, the smartphone is front and center of your livelihood. This is not just about personal life. This is a whole new category of employment that has been enabled by the smart phone. 
    • Talking of apps, I personally use my phone to buy and sell securities – Robinhood, etrade, do all of my banking transactions – be it transfers, paying my credit card bills, checking transactions and statements, budgeting (mint) all from my iPhone, without even having to type a password to login to the app. (Thanks to the fingerprint reader) How did you transfer money to your friend 15 years back when you needed to ? I also make remittances to foreign countries right from my phone. How far did you have to drive to a Western Union to transfer money to someone internationally and how much of a cut did they take ? How do you measure the quality of life improvement from not having to drive 5 miles to your nearest ATM to withdraw money ?
    • I use podcasts to listen to podcasts such as yours – when I am out walking, cycling, or stuck in traffic driving. How many ever episodes I want to listen to, when I want to listen to. Tell me you could do that 15 years back. Sure, there was the radio, and television, but there was no customization of what I wanted to listen to. For all I know, I might have been stuck listening to movie reviews that I absolutely don’t care about. If technology helps improve and raise the knowledge floor of people, that’s perhaps the single most useful thing in our pursuit of a better life.
    • I use my iPhone to track my fitness activities. I know I have bicycled 1300 miles this year so far, while I had biked about 1200 miles last year. I can compare how my half marathon times are improving, how my Personal Records on a bicycle have or have not been improving. (Strava, Endomondo)
    • I use my iPhone to pay for goods in many places. (Wallet)
    • Let’s talk about companies like Square and how they are transforming small businesses. Guess what Square needed to process your payments in the first place ? A smartphone. Does this seem like personal space to you ?
    • Let’s talk some societal dynamics here as well. When you see outrageous video be it of a crime, or of a hapless man being shot at by police, and that starts a national conversation on such things, that leads to people being more informed, aware and as a result being able to bring in change, tell me that’s not a “big deal”. Tell me you’d take Refrigerators to Racial equality.
    • Robots and AI don’t change our life ? That’s pure insane. Do you know why you get your Amazon packages a day after you ordered it ? Heard of a company called Kinva Robotics ? How do you know what to stock in which warehouse so that it arrives at someone’s doorstep in two days, or in some cases, the same day ?
    • Let’s talk Robots – I personally use a Roomba and have never had to vacuum my apartment in the last year or so. Sure, this is personal space, and possibly doesn’t make me more productive at work, but it’s a positive influence on my life, and improves my quality of life.
    • Heard of Robotic Surgery ? Surely your measure of productivity and progress is not how many surgeries you can do per hour. This enables new surgical procedures that weren’t present before, or the ability to remotely operate on patients.
    • How about drones in warfare ? If your work is in the line of national defense, for sure, robotics have improved your productivity. How about drones to just measure methane leaks in natural gas sites ? or in other similar hazardous situations ?
    • For everything that saves me time, and energy in my personal life, my quality of life just improved. Isn’t productivity broadly defined as doing more with less ? If I am able to save time doing menial tasks, and use that for self-improvement – be it finding time to research investments, understanding the global economy and where it is headed by listening to podcasts, getting healthier by keeping track of my exercises, shouldn’t that be accounted for somewhere ?
    • AI is changing your lives without you even realizing it. You have to realize that while data analysis can give some amazing insights into totally new things, more often than not, it can help you improve incrementally, yet continuously. For example, if Geico can use IBM’s Watson to determine better models where good drivers’ premiums come down, isn’t that great ? If at the same time they can be more profitable, isn’t that even better ?
    • AI for example as used by Google Photos, will help you identify photos of yourself, your family …etc. I was surprised to learn that it could search the photo of a bill based on the search term I typed. Sure, this is in the personal space again.
    • Let’s see what other apps help you – checking into your airplane – check. navigating to an unknown place – check. Want to translate a foreign phrase – check.
  • Find the Robot – when I get on a airplane, go to a hotel – human beings do the same thing they did 10-15 years ago. In office situations, going to the doctor, the dentist, the vet, going into retail stores, going into restaurants. I see a large part of the economy operating in the same way it’s been operating the last year and the year before.
    • You could not be more mistaken about everything here. First things first – booking airplane tickets are so much easier today. I can compare prices online, (think Kayak, TripAdvisor), I can book a ticket from my phone, have the boarding pass delivered to my Wallet on the iPhone. The first airline person I interact with is at the time of boarding when I swipe my phone on the QR code reader. Are there other things about flying that have improved ? Airlines are using data and using computing on that data to determine which routes to serve, how to fill the most seats, and offer the most affordable experience. I would be shocked if you told me that airlines were operating as well as they are today ten or fifteen years ago. I would be equally shocked if you told me that the airline ticket was as cheap as it is today. There – that’s two metrics
      • Operational Efficiency of Airplane carriers.
      • Cost reduction of airplane tickets.
    • Let’s talk about hotel bookings next. Could you compare the prices of hotels and get the best price 10-15 years back ? Could you make a hotel reservation right from your phone – while stopped at a traffic light ? Also, could you let out your house and make an income from it ? – AirBnb. I do not know about the process improvements hotels have had in their operations. Maybe they still employ the same number of service staff they used to. But I’m willing to bet they’re more operationally efficient.
    • The doctor, the dentist, the vet. Here I would perhaps have to agree. But there are improvements here as well – there are tele-docs. I’ve never tried one personally. I think in terms of setting up appointments (online), getting your prescription filled electronically, storing health documents …etc there are improvements.  But clearly this is one area ripe for disruption. Many have tried to disrupt this space and failed – I think mainly because of the complexity around local legislation and such, and not for technical reasons.
    • Retail Stores – you have got to be kidding me. Just look at the financial results of major brick and mortar retailers from the last year or so, and tell me things are just he same. In another five years, you will not be able to visit most of the retailers you visit today. You can talk to a cylindrical object sitting on your living room table, and have toilet paper delivered the next day. E-commerce has changed the way most people shop.  It’s even more disruptive in countries where the shopping experience is more of a hassle – no parking, narrow aisles …etc. Try going shopping in a developing country like India – it’s a challenge. Having goods delivered at your footstep is transformational. Also, considering the prices have been aggressively driven down has to count for something. You can buy more for less. 
    • Restaurants – How do you think deliveries stack up today vs how they were 10-15 years ago. Did you have review sites like Yelp, did you have recommendations of where you could eat based on where you presently are ? In terms of the experience inside a restaurant, I agree that nothing dramatic has changed. But do you want it to ? In my utopia, I’d still want to eat freshly cooked meals the way I ate growing up.
  • Fewer hours of human labor – productivity should be going up really fast. The number of jobs would be declining. Economy has been adding millions of jobs every year, year after year. 
  • The next 10 years – going to look a lot like the last 10 years – incremental changes, no big revolution. 
  • If you take the long view, slow incremental change is normal.

One thing you have to realize is if the GDP is measured as exchange of services and goods for money, then technology is going to adversely affect that measurement. Isn’t there a joke about if a rich lady marries her chauffeur, the GDP just went down ? If your car drives itself, thereby not needing either chauffeurs or taxi cab drivers, that is going to affect the way we measure economic progress. If you measure productivity as the true cost to do something, then definitely for most things, that cost has been falling. That true cost should also consider the harm we are doing to the environment – CO2 production might be a good measure. Surely, we are making progress on the environmental front.

I have not touched on the improvements made in healthcare. If survival of the species and civilizations is top-priority, and it should be – otherwise, we lose the residual knowledge our species has gained and built up over a period of centuries, then every effort we are making towards keeping our civilizations intact is great progress. Are we able to act faster to disasters today ? Are we treating more medical conditions ? Is human life-expectancy increasing ? Is there less suffering through that prolonged life expectancy ? If you don’t touch on healthcare improvements, considering it is roughly 1/6th of the US economy, how accurate is your assessment of progress ?

I can go on and on with point by point rebuttals, but I leave you with this – what is the best life a person can lead ? Where do you draw the line on things that give you comfort and happiness and excesses ? How close are we to providing all of the things that provide all of the basic comfort and happiness to people ? A world where suffering is reduced, and people can pursue their interests freely.  We need good health, good education, and other basic amenities. Oh, and in another 50-100 years, your imaginary friend might just wake up on mars.


Backpacking Tents – Big Agnes Copper Spur HV vs Fly Creek HV

I’ll make this a quick post, because when you’re researching gear, you want only the most pertinent information, and for detailed reviews there are much much better websites out there.

Now if you’re considering an Ultralight 3-season 1 person or 2 person tent*, (By this I mean, a tent suitable for 1 person or 2 persons, and not the nomenclature the tent manufacturers use.) Big Agnes makes some of the best tents out there. Other brands you might want to consider who make similar tents are MSR and Nemo. You could throw in REI as well. (Well, surely there are others like Black Diamond, and for the really ultralight, ones like Zpacks)

I currently own a Copper Spur HV UL2, and having used it a couple of times, I really like the tent. The previous 2 person tent I owned was a ALPS Mountaineering Lynx 2. For the price it was a really good tent – very spacious inside, easy to setup, durable …etc. But heavy and it caught the wind like crazy. That tent had a trail weight of 5 lbs. 4 oz. and a total weight of 5 lbs. 13 oz. coming in 3 oz. under 6 lbs. As anyone that goes backpacking will attest to, a 6 lb tent is a heavy tent.

The Copper Spur HV UL2 is the High Volume version of the older Copper Spur UL2 tent. I emailed Big Agnes and asked them if I was considering the two tents, and wanted to make a decision, did the older model have an advantage in terms of better materials ? or because of the lower-profile design, better in winds …etc ? They replied back saying there was no advantages in terms of materials on the older model, and in terms of wind resistance, the redesigned poles of the newer tent was actually way better. I compared them side by side at a store, and

  • The poles looked beefier,
  • The side doors had been fixed not to fall to the ground,
  • The tent was roomier on the inside,
  • I guess on the negative side, it is slightly shorter now, but at 5′ 11″, I did not have issues with the tent length.
  • Another minor negative is, they replaced some of the translucent material closer to the floor of the tent with mesh – I don’t see an issue with this either.
  • So, in my opinion, and from what I’ve read elsewhere on the internet, the HV version is better.

Now, when I used this tent a month back trying to summit Mt. Whitney, me and a good friend of mine shared the tent. It was definitely cozy for a 2 people. We both are roughly the same height and same build – neither of us is beefy. We both used regular sized sleeping pads and bags. There was enough space to lay the sleeping pads side by side, but if you slept in anything other than a mummy bag, there would be entangled limbs, or at the very least elbows hitting the other person 🙂  The cold weather on Whitney and the fact that we were both inside our mummy bags zipped up, meant we actually managed ok. If you were going on a longer backpacking trip, the Copper Spur UL2 might not be a great choice. For the weight though, (2 lb. 12 oz, 3 lb 1 oz) it’s great.

I’ve also been looking for a lighter tent to carry for solo backpacking. I just shaved ~1 lb from switching to a lighter sleeping pad, and was determined to shave another 1 lb from the tent. Yay, another liter of water that can be carried! (Ok, roughly 1 liter)

So. I’ve been faced with two questions,

  1. What do I do about the 1 person tent ? i.e., when I go out backpacking alone.
  2. Is my current 2 person tent good enough for 2 people ? Are there better options out there.

I’ve kind of narrowed down to the Fly Creek and Copper Spur lines. If you follow and read forums online, it looks like the Copper Spur is preferred by more people for it’s 2 doors/vestibules and it’s fully free-standing structure, compared to the Fly Creek which needs to be staked out – and is not fully free-standing. I agree with this for the most part, but if you compare the weights, and sizes of the tents, you see some interesting things.

Amazingly, Big Agnes’ youtube videos’ weight don’t match their website’s spec weights in some cases. It’s only a few oz, but still. For e.g., the Copper Spur HV UL2 is shown to be 2 lb 14 oz in the video, while it is 2 lb 12oz in the specs. The Fly Creek weights appear accurate.

1 Person Use: Big Agnes Fly Creek HV UL2 vs Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL1

Keeping in mind the Copper Spur HV UL2 weight ~2 lb 12oz, (3 lb 1oz), I’m looking at a tent weighing ~ 1lb 12oz (2lb 1oz). That tent happens to be the Fly Creek HV UL1. But then considering the Fly Creek HV UL2 is only 4oz heavier, and costs roughly the same as well, I think it is just the better choice.

  • Now, remember I plan to use this as a 1 person tent. so the side vestibule vs front vestibule shouldn’t matter.
  • What’s amazing is the Fly Creek HV UL2 is actually still 3oz lighter than the Copper Spur HV UL1.
  • For that, I guess, you lose the freestanding ability. So if you camped in very rocky terrain where staking the Copper Spur might still be better.

For me though, I’m definitely getting the Fly Creek HV UL2. (The way to swallow the prices of these tents, is to think of expensive lodges in national parks where one night costs between $100 and $300 🙂 )

EDIT: After having purchased the Fly Creek HV UL2, I absolutely did not like the tent. It was spacious inside, and for a 1 person, the door was ok too. But I hated the fact that to keep the side walls from falling in, they had to be staked too. This would make pitching in a rain a pain. So, I decided to go with the Copper Spur HV Ul1, and so far I am happy with this tent. I might even leave some stakes (each measuring 25gms) behind to save on weight.

2 Person Use: Big Agnes Fly Creek HV UL3 vs Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2

Once again, I am comparing the larger tent from Fly Creek to the smaller tent from Copper Spur. This is slightly less clear to me, considering I already own the CS.

  • The Fly Creek is definitely the roomier tent, and weighs a mere 3oz over the Copper Spur. 2 lb 15oz vs 2 lb 12 oz.
  • In case of the 3 person tent, the Fly Creek is also freestanding I believe – It has poles go out to the 4 corners, unlike the 1 and 2 person models.
  • So, it comes down to floor area vs having your own door and vestibule.
  • I can definitely see why having 2 doors would be better. You don’t disturb the other person when you need to go outside the tent, put on your shoe, or grab something from your pack.
  • Also, the vestibule is smaller. I must say the CS HV UL2’s vestibules were just about large enough to keep my boots and pack from the rain, so a smaller vestibule will be even worse.
  • But the extra room inside! Gives you a foot of width over the Copper Spur.

If you don’t mind another ~half a pound, the CS HV UL3 is an option as well.

DIY Bike Mechanic – Creaky Drive Train


Ok, so I ride bicycles. Somewhere between riding to go to the grocery store in downtown, and dedicated riding in a bike group. According to my Strava page, I’ve ridden around 4000 miles in the last 4 years exactly. (I only started riding, and recording rides as of Aug 2013) So, you get the picture, I’m out riding bikes a bit, but not that much.

Now, those 4000 miles have been shared between 4 bikes.

  1.  A GMC Denali road bike, which I rode all through mid 2014.
  2. A Diamondback Century 1 2015 which I rode when I tried fixing my third bike’s derailleurs on my own. This was ridden for a few months in 2016, at which point I decided to sell it to just own a single bike.
  3. A Diamondback Century 2 2014, which I ride post 2017 Feb on and off, and also rode in 2015. In early 2016 I tried fixing this bike, and ended up not riding it for several months.
  4. A Diamondback Podium Vitesse Campagnolo EPS bike that I ride only very occasionally on account of it being a Carbon bike.

I think I can delve into how trying to repair the derailleurs didn’t work very well for me, but I’ll keep that for another day.

In my skillset is patching a tube, replacing a tube, replacing a tire. 🙂 Even on a bike without a quick release. (Ok, not that big of a deal.)

I’ve fixed broken spokes as well.

  • The learning in that process (2013), was that the tool to remove the cassette were many, and I bought one or two wrong ones before buying the third right one! Oh well!
  • I also learned that spokes for 700c tires were different based on the depth of the rim. This when I walked into the shop, asked him for 700c spokes to the bike mechanics bewilderment, and then walked out with it only to come home and find out that the spokes were short! I then had to walk back to the shop with a spoke from the wheel, and get it matched.
  • I also learned that removing the cassette with a small lever is really really hard. Again having to walk back to the bike shop to request the mechanic there to remove the cassette for me.
  • I learnt that you can order a quick release set of the internet, but when it arrives, and you go and inspect your hubs, you find they are not hollow, and you cannot use the QR set. I have the QR set to this day. 🙂 I can use them now, but I haven’t had the need to use the spares yet. The ones on my bike are just fine.

Fixing brakes, tightening the cable, replacing the brake pads are all things I can do. Nothing out of the ordinary. The only gotcha here is some brands – Tektro has a tab you can pull up to remove your tire fully inflated. Campagnolo doesn’t have this. At least not on the Athena brakes I have.

Removing the seat, adjusting it, lubing it, are all things I can do. I even own 4-6 Nm torque bits 🙂

A few things I don’t fancy doing,

  • Adjusting the drive train. I somehow didn’t get the hang of the derailleur systems on my Shimano 105 bike. I get it conceptually, but I just couldn’t manage to fix it correctly. Try after try. You need to have a lot of patience, and I just couldn’t manage to get it right! I took it to a bike shop, only to have the mechanic tell me the cables were under-tensioned!
  • Bearings! I haven’t yet touched any of my bearings, and for good measure.
  • Cables! If I had to replace a derailleur cable, I’d do a poor job. Brake Cables, I think I might be able to manage.

With that out of the way, my latest problem, and trying to fix it!

A creaky Drivetrain

My drivetrain is creaky – producing a grinding noise! I’ve been trying to isolate the noise, but it’s hard. It also appears only under load, making me think it is the bottom bracket. You’d think the Bottom Bracket and the Cranks are all standardized, and quite simple. You’d be wrong!

I also made sure to test all the usual suspects –

  • In the process found my outer chainring to be slightly loose, but nothing that was causing the noise.
  • My bottle cages had come loose and were rattling – fixed it. Didn’t fix the creaky drivetrain obviously.
  • I’ve checked my seat, my pedals and my chain and cassette – they all look fine.
  • The bottom bracket itself doesn’t have any play in it, and rotates freely when not under load. I give it a spin, and can manage to make it turn 6-8 times freely without any binding.

Well, I guess opening it up may hold some clues.

I managed to find a nice helpful Park Tool video online about the types of cranks, identified my BB-4000 FSA Omega to be a ‘Self Extracting type’ with a retaining ring, and managed to remove it with just my pedal wrench! Hooray! Next onto see if I can service the bottom bracket and get rid of the creaking.

Here are the two Park Tool Videos. Thanks Park Tool guys! I just ordered a bunch of tools from you as a thank you for the instructional videos. 🙂 (Now that I think about it, maybe that was the goal, other than being helpful of course. Nothing nefarious – all good!)


Bottom bracket

Here’s an FSA Video to remove a BB-30 MegaExo bottom bracket,

From the looks of it, I will need a bottom bracket removal tool! At least this one’s supposed to fit Shimano, FSA and Campy, or so it says.

Ah, more tools. Cups and all – much fun!

At this point, I have to see if I can service the BB. If not, I want to consider the possibility of moving to a different BB/ Crank system – preferably the Shimano 105, and HT2 BB. I’m definitely not buying a spare FSA bottom bracket.

It’s shitty the number of BB standards there are!

  • English BB.
  • BB-30. Go away!!!
  • PF-30. Pressfit.
  • BB-86
  • BB-92

A more detailed video from GCN,

Ok, onto reading up on BB’s then.

Mt Whitney Hike-2017

Having been to the Mt. Whitney hike once in 2016 (we did not end up getting to the summit.), we wanted to retry again this year. So, me and a buddy of mine (2 of the original party of 4) decided we would apply for the lottery, and try doing it if we got permits.

We did end up getting permits, so we decided to do it over two days – 7th and 8th of July. It’s a pretty standard 2 day itinerary. Get to trail camp on Day 1, and then try to get to the summit and back on Day 2.

Back in 2016, a lot of things had gone wrong. While we were setting up our tents (thankfully at the trailhead), we found that the REI rental tent had a broken pole, and we did not have duct tape or a pole stub (the thing you can use to patch aluminum tent poles). So we had to go find a hotel for the night, and buy a tent the next morning before starting on the hike. Needless to say, that meant a pretty late start. Also, while climbing up, I had somehow accidentally dropped one of my crampons on the trail. No crampons = no day 2 climbing for me. I would have gladly stayed back in the tent, and have the others complete the hike, but they did not want to, and hence we turned back from Trail Camp. Also, this was in early May – so there was way more snow on the trail. In fact when my other friends attempted it a week before us, they did not have any existing footprints on the chute to work with.

Come 2017, I had learned a few lessons from the previous hike.

(a) Climbing 6100 feet from 8360 feet is very different from climbing the same from sea level. Sure, it’s over 2 days, but still as you get higher, it gets harder to hike.

(b) Carrying a lot of weight in your backpack is also very different when hiking at altitude. I have been comfortable(ish) carrying ~45 pounds on a Grand Canyon hike. Carrying the same on Mt. Whitney was a terrible idea.

Considering I did not want to make the same mistake of carrying a lot of weight, I spent considerable money in trying to lighten my backpack. I think I was able to bring it down to ~30pounds with water added to the mix. Which is 2/3rds the weight of 45 pounds. Considering I was carrying a 2 person tent, 6.6 pounds of water, food for 2 days, a sleeping bag, sleeping pad, a summit pack, dry pack, clothes and crampons and ice axe, this was pretty ok. I might have been able to drop another 2 pounds with some more sacrifices. My friend did carry the bear canister, and Jetboil in exchange for the tent 🙂

Pack and pack contents:

  • Boreas Bootlegger – with all 3 packs. One to be used as raincover, one for the second day summit, and one regular. This was a little heavier than maybe carrying my Bergans Helium 55, but I would have needed a separate rain cover, and a separate summit bag.
  • North Face Hyper Cat sleeping bag. (20F < 2 pounds, Synthetic). Not only is this a light bag for the temperature rating, but it also packs down really small. Also, please don't use down if you can help it. Down is made from plucked Goose feather, and sometimes, this is borderline cruel.
  •  Klymit Static V Insulate sleeping pad (1 pound 9oz for 4.4 R value) – This is perhaps where I will try to cut a pound the next time. There are pads that weigh ~1pound for a lot more money of course.
  • Big Agnes Copper Spur UL2 HV tent. (<3 pounds for a 2 person freestanding tent is pretty impressive.) The tent did feel a little compact – both me and my friend are 5'11" and not really skinny. This was a little cozy with both sleeping pads touching, but considering it was cold, we managed fine. For warm weather, might want a roomier 2 person tent. But with the tent staked correctly, it withstood rain and hail at trailcamp.
  • One set of thermal inners, one Columbia fleece jacket, one pair of extra socks, first aid kit, toiletries, Maglite flashlight, energizer head lamp. Couple of trash bags (for waterproofing needs, trash …etc)
  • Platypus 3L big zip hydration bladder.
  • Marmot Precip rain jacket and pants.
  • 2-3 freeze dried meals + 2-3 trail mixes + 2-3 cliff bars.
  • Black diamond crampons, tent stakes, black diamond ice axe, Komperdell hiking poles. Yaktrax.

I think that was pretty much it. In terms of what I’d leave behind, I’d definitely leave behind the yaktrax – which were of no use whatsoever. I’d also leave behind the flashlight.

In terms of fitness, I think I was in worse shape compared to the last time over! So much for learning lessons. I think going into the first week of June, my training was coming along well, when I fell sick with a cold/allergy. The ensuing 3 weeks was mostly spent recovering from the above, and then trying to recover from a horrible dry cough that wouldn’t let go, costing me valuable preparation. I tried training despite the cough, but the coughing fits that followed were not fun!

Day 0:

So we landed in LAX on a Thursday, and drove down to Lone Pine, picked up the permits, went crampon renting, and bought a few miscellaneous stuff from one of the store at lone pine. Had breakfast at Dennys on the way, and lunch at a burger place in Lone pine. We then headed to the Base camp, which was full of mosquitoes! Had to buy a bug repellant which I had left behind, since I did not see bugs the last time. After setting up the tents – (I had taken a second 1 person tent, since I didn’t want day 0 tent experience to be tight as well. We were going to leave it in the car anyway), we had an early dinner at the Whitney Portal Store – burgers and fries again, and went to sleep around 6pm.

Day 1:

The plan was to start at around 4 am, which might have been a little early. We finally ended up starting only around 6:30 am, since we had to pack the tents and stuff, and my backpack was so small that things had to go in in a particular way for everything to fit – so I basically had to pack things in the morning after folding up the tent, sleeping bag and sleeping pad from the previous night.

We mostly kept going with very few breaks. We took a break every 2 hours or so. Once we got to within a mile of Trail Camp, there was snow on the trail, and at this point, people just start walking up the snow straight instead of through the actual trail (which is also covered in snow).

As we got close to trail camp, there were signs of dark clouds and possible rain approaching. At this point, I realized the pain of putting my backpack into a dry bag and then attaching the strap system to it. If it were to every suddenly start pouring, I would have a difficult time doing this.

Once we got to Trail Camp, which I believe was around 12:30 – 1pm, we searched for a good spot, found a great spot to pitch the tents, pitched our tents, unpacked some, made our meal, and had the meal quickly. At this point, we decided to go to sleep early around 3pm or 4pm or so. As soon as we got into the tent, and changed clothes and stuff, it first started raining and then pelting small sized hail. This was of course accompanied by lightning and thunder. I was later told that some people were still trying to get to trail camp when the showers started. The only thing I was worried about was the hiking poles and the ice axes we had placed nicely at the head of the tent 🙂 Hopefully it wouldn’t attract any lightning or else we were toast. It rained/hailed for about an hour and when I walked out the tent, the area surrounding us was covered in hail/snow – so was the rainfly of the tent. Considering this was a lightweight backpacking tent, thankfully the hail was not any larger, or it would have done some damage to the tent.

I finally went to sleep some time around 4-5pm, only to have to wake up later to have to pee, frantically trying to find my socks and shoes :).

Day 2:

We had spoken to a few people that walked down before we started the hike. One person informed us that the switchbacks were mostly not covered in snow, and if you got to the cables section, it was mostly no snow after that to trail crest.

Also, when we spoke to others who had returned to Trail camp while we were there, some reported having taken 5 hours to get to the summit.

Figuring it would take us at least 4.5 hours, we wanted to leave around 2am so we would finish the hike while there was still light. Unfortunately, we woke up at 3:15 am, and by the time we started it was 4:30 am. Still pretty early, but 2.5 hours behind where we wanted to be. We started walking up some footprints towards the chute. Once we reached the point directly below the cables, we could see a steep slope lead up to the cables – we decided to climb it in the hopes that from there on, we could remove out crampons and hike normally. This climb was pretty ok, but we had to hoist ourselves up near the end of the cables section. Slightly treacherous if you ask me. Then we removed crampons, and started walking the switchbacks. while it was true that most of the switchbacks were snow free, there was snow in portions, and where there was snow, it was pretty steep – I guess that’s the point of the switchbacks :). We decided to boulder over rocks instead of walking over snow at those points – something that took a lot of energy. Once we got to the last few switchbacks, it was mostly covered in snow all the way to trail crest. Did not put the crampons back on, but walked carefully and slowly with ice-axe in hand.

At 7am, 2.5 hours after we had started the hike, we still had a little ways to go before hitting trail crest. Post this point – refer images below, was covered in snow.

We finally reached trail crest at 8am. 3.5 hours after starting in the morning. Pretty slow going.

In retrospect, the chute might have been faster. The dry section of the switchbacks was too small, to get any benefit out of it.

By 10:30, a full 6 hours after starting in the morning, and 2.5 hours after stopping at trail crest for a while, I had reached the hill on which Mt. Whitney is, but had absolutely no energy left to do the last 0.4 miles to get to the summit. 14,157 ft. Another 400 ft to go. 🙂 The point is shown on the image below.

I turned back after sitting and contemplating for some time as to what to do. I thought it was safer to not deplete the last ounce of energy I had so that I did not make mistakes while descending.

Mt.Whitney Hike

In the meantime, my friend had gone onto the summit, and returned back and joined me on the trail back to trail crest.

We reached trail crest around 12:30 pm. 8 hours since starting the hike in the morning. At this point, I knew I did not have the energy to take the switchbacks down, but also was a little scared to glissade down the chute. But it was decided that we were taking the chute down anyway, because we had to get down quick, and we didn’t have a whole lot of energy to hike down. After hiking down the steepest part of the chute, which to me was scary – I slipped a few times – hadn’t worn the crampons, because it was slushy snow anyway. thankfully planting the ice axe firmly in the ground was reassuring, and probably saved me from plummeting down.

Once we got to the less steep section, my friend glissaded down first. And only after I found him alive and well at the bottom of the chute, did I start my glissading down. It was reasonably well controlled – a little faster than it should have been – because of the slope – but also, I was digging in the ice axe (pointy end), with all my might to slow myself down. 🙂 Finally got to the bottom of the chute, and literally walked as fast as we could to the tent.

We got down to the trail camp around 2:45pm. 10 hours!

I wanted to rest a while before doing anything else, so I just lay down outside the tent for some. We then prepared our meal, ate it, and slowly started unpacking the tent, and packing the backpacks. I think it was 4:30 pm once again before we started hiking down.

On the way down, we stopped once we reached Outpost camp, and then not once afterwards. The moment you stopped, you’d have mosquitoes feeding on you – so it was better to just keep going.

I finally finished the hike at 9pm. My friend was ahead – so he probably finished 15-20 mins before I did.

16.5 hours of hiking. I still wasn’t really tired in my muscles though – just an overall sense of weariness. The other thing that killed me was my waist belt had come undone while trying to tighten it – so the 30 pound pack was kinda killing me on my shoulders on the way down.

We went to our hotel, had baths, and then dug into a large pizza! I slept like a log for the rest of the night.

For me personally, the second attempt has also been unsuccessful. Having a cold/allergy 1 month before the hike, and not being able to train for it for an entire month leading up to the hike thanks to a persistent cough for which I saw 4 separate doctors, was debilitating in terms of my preparation. While my overall fitness levels were perhaps ok, not training for 3 weeks to a month definitely costs you some fitness.

I think the next time I attempt it, it’s going to be later in the season, and most likely a day hike.


Velocomp Powerpod Unboxing and Review

You can find the company website here

And you can find a Kickstarter page (no longer active, but has a nice intro video. Since posting this, the intro video is also available on Youtube.) here

So, I ordered a Powerpod from Velocomp Thursday (May the 4th), and this afternoon I received an email from the company saying the package was out for delivery! Whoa! That’s pretty fast Amazon Prime-esque delivery times. Actually maybe even faster considering it was delivered < 48 hours after I placed the order. I walk up to my mailbox and the USPS person handed the package to me. Really impressive.

This is what the box looks like from the outside,

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The packaging is very minimalistic – which I actually like. Also for a small company starting out, this is to be expected.

Now, I was considering a Pioneer power meter, and I wasn’t discouraged by the price so much as the fact that I owned two bicycles – and one of them is a Campy Athena Crank. So, I was really undecided on (A) Which bike to get the power meter for, and (B) How do I get power data if I ride the other bike ? Anytime I have to make a decision that involves more than a simple yes or no, I just put off the decision making way into the future. 🙂 Enter the Powerpod, and the fact that it can be used on multiple bikes easily, and I was immediately sold.

How I chanced upon the Powerpod was, I was reading an article that Apple might be working on a patent for power generation based on a wind sensor, and someone in the comment section pointed out that someone already had a fully baked product out there that did the exact same thing. I google the company’s name, and voila, DC Rainmaker has an article on it. Now, I was kinda introduced to the Wahoo ecosystem by reading DC Rainmaker’s posts as well, and that has worked out marvelously for me. I love all of the Wahoo items I have. I love the heart rate sensors, the speed and cadence sensors, the Wahoo Elemnt. I even briefly owned a Kickr snap, but did not enjoy riding on a trainer.

Back to the Powerpod, I am unboxing the product as I type this post. First things first – I am slightly disappointed that the usb port does not have a rubber cover to it. I am wondering now if this is going to be waterproof. I remember reading in DCR’s article that he it can be ridden in the rain without issues. I might have to fashion some kind of rubber washer for it, or maybe just stick some black electric tape over the usb port.  {Since writing this post, I contacted Velocomp, and they assured me that the USB port and the wind port are both waterproof. In fact, I did earlier read in the comments section that you just rinse them out if they ever get dust on them. I feel more confident now that this will work in rain and such without problems. } However, they did have a picture showing which way the connector needed to go. Considering established companies like Gopro can’t get this right, (not for the USB cable itself, but for the battery and SD Card) I guess, you need to give them points for it. The usb is also micro-USB which is what most electronics products come with. They could move to USB-C and that would take the hassle out of the connector not being reversible, but not a big deal, considering this is for charging and not data transfer. I meant to say not massive amounts of data transfer like video from a camera, but I have been corrected that the USB port is indeed used for data transfer, when you hook it up to your computer to get advanced raw data analysis. 

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I already have a K-edge Wahoo/Gopro combo mount on one of my bikes, and noticed the Powerpod comes with another mount. Considering my Campy bike is EPS and has very less cabling in the front, I think I’ll use the regular adapter with this.


  1. There is installation instructions stuck to the inside of the box.
  2. The rest of the instructions are printed out on paper and included in the box.

Btw, I put the Powerpod on charge just a while back, and looks like it is fully charged and ready to go.

You can find the instructions here

I skipped two pages of advanced instructions for now. I’ll get to that at a later point in time.

Pairing to Speed and Cadence Sensors:

I own Wahoo speed and cadence sensors – so I’m going to proceed to pairing the powerpod with them. Ok, so I brought the sensors alive, pressed on the button for 4 seconds, and it blinked green, followed by solid green, followed by orangish blinking ?? Did I actually pair it ? I’m going to try again.

Ok, it seemed to do the same thing again. Blinking green followed by solid green, followed by blinking amber/orange. I guess it’s paired. We’ll figure it out. Took all of 5 minutes really. The sensors did pair correctly, so, there was no cause for concern there really.

Folks over at Velocomp tell me that,

  1. Blinking Green – Searching for sensors
  2. Solid Green – Speed sensor paired.
  3. Orange 3 flashes – Cadence and or heart rate strap paired.

Ah, so that’s what it was – I tried pairing the Speed and Cadence sensor at the same time. So, the Solid Green was the Speed sensor getting paired, the 3 Orange flashes was the Cadence sensor getting paired. 

Apparently, pairing a heart rate sensor is also supported, and is valuable in gathering useful data. I’m going to check this out as well.

Pairing to my Wahoo Elemnt bike computer:

You’re supposed to do this from the Elemnt. Ok, I was able to go the menu, Sensors, Add Sensor, and it took less than 30 seconds to pair to the Elemnt. It’s now added to the Elemnt. The Powerpod has a Solid Yellow light on, indicating that it is now ready to be calibrated.

At this point, I need to take a break to clean my bicycle 🙂 It’s the weekend you know. I think once I have it spotless and lubed, I’ll attach the Powerpod to it, and go ahead with Calibration after that.

Ok, here’s an odd thing – while I have shut down my bike computer, and wandered off into corners of the internet, the Powerpod’s LED is still solid amber. Looks like it needs to be calibrated 🙂 How do I shut this thing off ? Ok, apparently if I go about wandering the internet, it should power off in 20 minutes. …. And it did shut itself off – no worries there.

… … …


So, I attached the Powerpod to the K-edge mount a day after I started with the process, and turned the power button on, and started my Wahoo Elemnt up. I initially did not see any indication of anything going on, but as soon as I started riding, the Watts started going from 0-100, which was basically the calibration completion process.

One of the issues is with my particular bike is even with the K-edge mount, a couple of cables still end up touching the power meter. Considering this is a 105 bike, and does not have cables in front of the hoods (like Tiagra, Sora …etc), I am a little annoyed by this. I am also a little worried about if this will affect actual power numbers. I haven’t tried the provided mount yet – that might actually be better in terms of nothing contacting it.

Folks over at Velocomp were kind enough to suggest that I either use a zip-tie or actually trim the cables – which to be honest, is a very reasonable suggestion. My bike does have unnecessarily long cables!

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Test Ride:

So, as the caibration was going on, this was my test ride 0. When I see the ride on Strava, it has power numbers. You’ll see “Weighted Avg Power” instead of “Estimated Avg power” and also Avg and Max power numbers. Fig below shows a workout with power numbers, and another for comparison without the power numbers.

Endomondo showed no power data whatsoever. Apparently, there is no support as you will find in their forums. Bummer. Now, both my Strava and Endomondo account are not Premium. I am sure with a Premium Strava account, you’d be able to see Power charts and such.

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The Wahoo Elemnt App did a nicer job of giving more details for free.It has, Power Zones, Power Metrics, Power Curve (which for this ride is bogus), and Avg and Max Power per Lap.

I am interested in it recording the power numbers with both my Wahoo Elemnt, and possibly also my iPhone. I’ll see how the data from the two compare. (Ironically the only app that will let me record view the power numbers on my iPhone will also have to be a Wahoo app, since I do not have a premium subscription to Strava.)

More after a few more rides, and collecting some meaningful data…